Sunday, December 03, 2006


The "Captain Jamil Hussein" problem, an incident in which the Associated Press appears to have used a fake policeman as a source for an extended period of time, raises the generic problem of how to verify news stories generated by a field correspondent. The problem is not confined to the MSM. Bloggers are increasingly bombarded with tips and reports from individuals they may have corresponded with, but whom they have never met, and whose information may be questionable. There are great opportunities under those circumstances for pranksters and malevolent persons to spread disinformation. Although the problem is most marked in the case of the mainstream media (MSM) it is not confined to them. The problem of acquiring accurate intelligence, even in the face of active disinformation, is a challenge to everyone. Hence, the "Captain Jamil Hussein" problem is typical of a class of challenges probably best understood in the context of a simplified intelligence cycle: that of collection-analysis-dissemination.

The press, because of its huge institutional presence is still the primary open source mechanism for "collection". The blogosphere has increasingly become a major player in "analysis". As the blogosphere continues to expand and MSM media personalities start to blog, the division of labor between these two entitites will start to blur. Organizations like Pajamas Media, Oh My News! and 18 Doughty Street are starting to provide original reportage -- collection -- while continuing to focus on analysis. But however the labor is divided, the conceptual distinction between collection and analysis remains and we will return to the subject later.

Dissemination, that is, the way particular stories are chosen from among the many thousands of daily events and processed between Internet centers of consciousness until they are finally served up to their relevant audiences -- is of crucial importance too. This describes the path that a "story" takes from its inception as it is added to, modified, and amplified until it becomes a subject of wide public interest. The classic example of this was the Dan Rather Killian fake document event. CBS itself collected the information by posting the faked documents. But it was analysis, beginning with the Free Republic and spreading through the blogosphere that was truly revolutionary. The detection of the fake, first expressed as a vague doubt, then focusing on increasingly specific and incontrovertible technical criticism, was amplified as it was picked up by progressively "larger" centers of consciousness -- larger in the sense of audience reach and prestige -- until it amounted to a tidal wave that discredited Sixty Minutes, forced Dan Rather into retirement and cast several major media personalities into the outer dark.

But as the MSM itself was fond of pointing out, collection remained largely their monopoly at least for "general interest news". The event horizon for the blogosphere still remains the wire service release or dispatch filed by newspaper or media correspondents, which however clever bloggers might be, they could not peer past. And it was in this shadow zone where the "Jamil Hussein" problem took place. The MSM dominance in specialist news is far less complete. Global Voices, a weblog community run by the Harvard Law School, has systematically been hosting or linking to weblogs authored by its contacts in largely obscure Third World locations. Global Voices is often the only primary source of events in places where the MSM has no presence because lack of interest makes it impractical to station correspondents there; and on which even editorial time is deemed wasted unless some war or natural disaster should strike. For many analytical bloggers, Global Voices (and others like it)  is the event horizon for "under the horizon" or chronic events in obscure places like Timor or Chad. The trade press often provides the first reportage on subjects too obscure or uninteresting to the general public for WaPo of the NYT to notice. Sites like the Fourth Rail or MEMRI often have private sources which regularly scoop the MSM on subjects like events in Pakistani tribal areas or trends in Arabic news stories. Yet while the MSM doesn't provide private collection in these niche areas, it is still true that it owns the publics first glimpse of the general news.

Bearing that relationship of the MSM and blogosphere in mind, one may ask, what are the desirable properties an interface that bloggers could use to fix their greatest weaknesses? The previous discussion identifies two major issues:

  1. Pushing the event horizon back, beyond that provided by the MSM wire service system; and facilitating the verification of reported stories; and
  2. Making it easier for bloggers to "disseminate" information. That is to make their information available in such a way that it can be more easily picked up and amplified until it reaches a wide audience.

The first thing to observe is that once information is entered on the Internet, it is potentially "discoverable". RSS, for example, has a created a standard by which any content publishes the equivalent of a table of contents and makes it possible for software to "discover" what it is about. The ideal blogging interface can build on this by incorporating "automatic discovery" into its design. At any given time there are a number of conversations on the Internet on subjects which are potentially knowable, provided they are formatted according to an agreed standard which states their content. If a blogger could automatically be cued into ongoing or past threads as he is posting on a subject or immediately thereafter, it becomes potentially possible to "join" that thread, even though the thread only exists conceptually. For example, it would probably be useful if a medical researcher, posting on his latest research findings automatically became aware of researchers engaged in similar or related pursuits. To use another example, it would have been very useful if a blogger when writing about "Captain Jamil Hussein" became conscious of the many threads in which the shadowy Captain featured. All of these things can be done with current tools, using search engines, RSS aggregators and the like. However they take time and effort. Time and effort which only a few bloggers like Flopping Aces seemed ready to invest. The AP either did not know how or were too busy to make undertake an equivalent task. Many non-Internet savvy users won't know how to what Flopping Aces did in any case. However, if these features were built into a blogging interface itself, preferrably as an underlying standard which could be implemented creatively by developers, then this power would be at the fingertips of laymen.

The ideal blogging interface should also be able to initiate and accept messaging between other related threads, whether or not those threads were generated by human authors or programmatically. For example, it would be desirable for someone posting on the subject of "Captain Jamil Hussein" to queue messages to other threads without having any special knowledge about the identities of the authors of those threads. This will make it easier for relavant information on a subject to "snowball" in such a way that the knowledge base on the subject is expanded while simultaneously signaling the state of development of the story. This will facilitate the amplification and transformation of a meme and shorten the period between the time an event leaves the news event horizon and becomes a subject of wide public interest. Again these things can be done with current tools, such as search engines, email, instant messaging, telephony and whatnot. But inconvenience and lack of knowledge among users will limit the process of dissemination unless these features can be built into the interface to make it easier.

What will this achieve? First of all, it will transform the blog, which is an ill-defined piece of generic information into a powerful object with its own properties and methods. This will make each post "live". It will be alive to the downstream and upstream; that is to the collection and dissemination. But more importantly it will create the architecture to make blogs part of the collection system itself. This will make it potentially possible for a blogger to file something, perhaps even unintentionally, about "Captain Jamil Hussein" or any other subject and add to a conversation. From the point of view of the collection-analysis-dissemination cycle, it will push back the event horizon, provide collateral sources of confirmation to existing ones and provide better ways to disseminate information outwards.

There are many technical issues which I have omitted to mention. Permissions, for example. Ideally authors should be able to choose the degree of discovery they will allow on their material. Blog authors may wish not only to control the outgoing information by limit by filters the related discoveries they are interested in seeing. There is the issue of whether the underlying web services to support discovery and messaging can be feasibly constructed and paid for. There are issues of latency. But whether or not these specific ideas make sense in and of themselves, the challenges facing the open source intelligence system today are formidable and require architectural solutions. Talent and luck will still play a part. But design will play a bigger one.


Blogger Doug_S said...

I'm underwhelmed.

The world wide web did not come about through planning, blogs did not spring up through planning, and I suspect your construct will fail. Just my opinion.

12/03/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Db2m said...

Such attention to every bit of noise out there sounds akin to trying to trade off every tick of the market. Some tools would need to be developed in order to watch for factoid breakouts and bull/bear info/disinfo spreads.

12/03/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

The MSM used to be the single source. Now there are many sources. From a multitude of sources comes a form of research known as "many witnesses".

Consumers can "interview" many witnesses and get a much better description of what is really going on than was possible through the choke point of the MSM.

So the MSM is dying out, simply because they can't be a toll collector anymore for the news. The MSM has been reduced to a weak segment of the entertainment industry, constantly luring viewers with headlines heavy with hyperbole and falsehood with the goal of selling ad space.

Relying one the MSM to understand a situation or issue is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand.

12/03/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Underwhelmed? I think you may have missed Wretchard's point and I take it you do not work in healthcare IT.

For instance, an electronic medical record has to capture not only what a provider may order for a patient but also what notes he or she writes down. What's also important to consider is that this record must provide easy access to a patient's imaging orders, lab orders, previous history as well as consider who their insurance provider is. Each of these involves drawing from different databases storing very different types of information. Nothing revolutionary there, except perhaps the importance of what were storing in there, as well as how medicine would like to use such information.

While there are ways to do all of many useful things with that stored info according to robust specifications, you eventually have to plop this technology down in front of an end-user and they have to start using it. For instance, the "logitudinal" patient record comes to mind when Wretchard mentions the interactive "threads." Its a great way of looking at everything that has happened to a patient in the course of his or her healthcare over their entire lifetime. But what is the best way to display such information? You probably don't want a huge flat file - but you also want some logical and easy way to jump around. Do you create a tag cloud for symptoms? For drugs prescribed?

All the fancy functionality, such as that within the "blogs" you mention, is useless if a user cannot navigate to it and easily manipulate it. Interface is a huge problem in healthcare IT right now. Its a fundamental problem in technology across the board. And it results in a kind of horizon of capability we cannot see past. We've all the bells and whistles except the clean and "intuitive" GUI's that users of Google and Blogger may have taken for granted. This isn't just theoretical: design and interface issues keeps healthcare organizations implementing new IT bounded by a kind of "event horizon" of capability. This isn't an academic point either: there is not only lack of productivity but lost opportunities for better performance. There are ways to hack around these systems but it takes numerous steps, is not obvious and acts as a kind of deterrent or inertia for innovation.

So long as no one expects anything outside that event horizon, well, I suppose they will be just as underwhelmed as you at the suggestion that we could be doing things much differently.

Consider for instance, is the best way to interact with hypertext a keyboard and mouse? Why can't we throw in code, visualizations and the like with the speed of typing words?

12/03/2006 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Ikez said...

Is the media's disinformation campaign on Iraq also going to take a hit on their pushing of the "Bushlied" meme?

Looks like a newly elected Democrat is CERTAIN that Saddam Hussein had links to al Qaeda....

12/03/2006 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I think ppab could boil a pot of water just by staring at it. or maybe just by thinking about it from the next room.

12/03/2006 10:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If stoves had better interfaces, perhaps we could trigger them just by making eye contract with something. Maybe some software could recognize a "boil water" microexpression.

Its not too far off - theres alot of tech out there but so much of it is an outright pain to use.

No one wants to use a computer like a computer - I think people would rather use it like a tool bench that you wield through finger-painting.

Odd site I check every day -

I don't know how to do anything they do on there, but the coolest stuff will be impressive to anyone.

12/03/2006 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Great link, ppab--I saved it for later. Right now I'm focused on working thru this crazy futuristic visionary stuff.

12/03/2006 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

The best tools for this are still located with military/cia intelligence. They are the latest generation of tools that in 2000 enabled US intelligence to turn up the names of most of the 9/11 conspirators but at the time those names were embedded in a constellation of many other names. the noise to signal ratio was too high to make the info actionable. It might look something like this in a Namebase database

Name base

Here's a list of search tools at search engine watch

That said, you could likely put out a bid on scriptlance.comfor the capabilities that you have in mind. When the bids come in--then you put out a solicitation for funds.

One way to impliment the technical solutions would be to start them out as linkages between between the members of pajama media and then move the several other networks mentioned in the post. At that point there may be enough critical mass for wider dissemination.

12/03/2006 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


LOL - thanks to ehow, in the past week or so I've learned:

-How to earn the trust of an abused horse
-How to land an airplane
-How to surive an airplane crash

Maybe I can get admittance into Desert Rat's apocalypse survival shelter with the critical info you cite. I'll be the skullery guy or something.

12/03/2006 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Maybe we can stave off that apocalypse if we git us some ree-form. i know it won't be easy being as how we the incumbent.

12/03/2006 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I'm reading the eHow on the born-again mountain-man movement.
It's called

12/03/2006 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I have to come at this thing from another perspective.

The MSM is not a monopoly of "general interest news." The MSM is in the business of "shaping opinions" through so called "news."

In fact, the MSM could be thought of as a Tokyo Rose, a Con-artist, or a propaganda man. From Walter Duranty to Dan Rather they all use the Con-artist technique.

A good Con-game uses a significant amount of tangential facts mixed with a dose of misinformation. Then end result is the victim swallowing the misinformation hook-line-and-sinker.

That is exactly what the AP is doing (and they are sticking with their misinformation).

Because the "Captain Jamil Hussein" story came for the AP I did not pay much attention to it. Their credibility is very low. But, this is how I think it went down.

The AP simply let a propaganda man into to their network and let him freely work his magic. He became over confident and simply made-up a sensational "flaming" story and the AP fed it into their megaphone system.

At that point Flopping Aces and Malkin became suspicious and decided to cross-check the "story" with some military officials. The military looked into it and found there was no "Captain Jamil Hussein" and blew the AP's story to shreds. The rest is history.

I will say that both the White House and the Military have been more proactive at combating propaganda. During this election the White House web site had a side bar called something like "Setting the Record Straight" which would disprove some of the blatant falsehoods spread by the MSM and MNF/MNC did the same.

Sure technology is playing a role, but I think the Military and the Administration are now realizing that the MSM is not to be trusted and they are increasingly turning to bloggers to get the truth out. I think there is just a re-aligment of trusted information sources in action. The internet just has more trusted people than the MSM.

12/04/2006 01:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very powerful idea
But you don't go far enough. Instead of stopping at aggragating threads, push those threads into a wikipedia type technology, to quickly collaspe the individual threads into a concise picture of the event

12/04/2006 03:35:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

The blogs are often no better than MSM. Think not?

While we are obsessed with the mission to bring Democracy to Iraq and the Middle East, we may have missed something more important and relevant to our own well being and future. Latin America is turning a hard left.

In Latin America the revolutionary impulse flourishes, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) in Uruguay, Pachakutic in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia, the FARC and ELN in Colombia, the FMLN in El Salvador, in Mexico, the Zapatistas and the smouldering resentments of the supporters of Andrés López Obrador are all part of a mix that will affect the United States for the next fifty years. The Sandinistas are even back in power in Nicaragua. Nowhere on the entire planet is socialism and communism making more gains than in the Americas.

It is not just a passing fad. It is now structural and gaining a momentum of its own. While we spend untold billions on airport security looking for Islamists, millions of undocumented Latin Americans are entering the United States. We have no idea who they are, their criminal history or their intentions. Yesterday Hugo Chavez won another six year term with 60 % of the vote. When was the last time an American president won sixty per cent? How did he get that level of support? It is not through a pithy slogan. There is no Spanish version of "stay the course." It is a process known to marxists since they came into existance. It always includes the schools, health care and the basic necessities of life.

The lessons taught by dedicated marxists will stay with these children their entire lives. many of those indoctrinated and converted will bring their ideology to the United States. Big city and small town shool districts, already controlled by the progressive left will be fertile ground for neo-marxists.

12/04/2006 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

All is not lost, 2164. There is Australia, the size of USA with only 20 mm people living on 10% of the land (80% of the people are less than half-hour from the sea).

All we need is the cheap desalinization, and we can refugee to the outback, a step ahead of the Marxists hopefully.

But will they let us in?

12/04/2006 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Let us not forget "services" such as Snopes which do a very good job of running stories to ground.

As I once said to an Internet-obsessed friend, anything you read on the Internet has the inherent veracity of a message written on a bathroom wall of a Conoco gas station in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

The number of people who seem to take great pleasure in fabricating information out of whole cloth and sending it out on the Internet is astonishing. Amazingly, this includes info on subjects for which accurate info is available quite readily with a small amount of research - and under circumstances where the fabricated portion does not add anything to the point they are making. It appears that some are dedicated to never telling the truth where a lie would work just as well.

What you are describing is a "Hyperlink" via the Internet. At one time the Hyperlink was supposed to constitute a new and definitive approach to writing - readers could pursue side issues in a story if they desired by a simple click on a link. Unfortunately, it does not appear to have been used very much.

But what will be needed is a Snopes-equivalent site where the latest info on a subject is available - by means of links if nothing else. This possibly even could be quite lucrative - sort of a "honest poop Google" but I am not sure who I would trust to set it up. It might well be a guy working in a Conoco gas station in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

12/04/2006 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

NewsFlash: Bolton resigns, effective when recess expires.

This is getting nightmarish, my friends.

12/04/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

You're assuming that AP, Reuters and CBS *want* to be accurate. I, on the other hand, believe that AP & Reuters (along with BBC) have absolutely no problem at all with printing anti-American anti-war stories, no matter what kind of lie it is -- "if it bleeds, it leads".

Further, I believe our mainstream media in the United States, including NY Times, LA Times and the networks, have demonstrated that if it's anti-Bush or can be slanted to harm the administration, they also don't care about accuracy. And they can hide under Constitutional freedom of speech protection, and "the public's right to know".

People or news outlets or blogs will simply have to build up a trust factor for accuracy over a long period of time, just as AP / NY Times / CBS have killed off whatever trust they enjoyed over a long period of time.

In a capitalist society, companies and people are in business to make money. The only way for business and individuals to *want* to be accurate is if it is costing them money to print lies. It's costing CBS / LA Times / NY Times money now in loss of viewer and readership. Do we think that the actions of AP and Reuters over the last two or three years is costing *them* money?

And in the case of BBC, they can publish whatEVER fairytales they can dream up, and the English taxpayer will still pay for it.

12/04/2006 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger John Samford said...

"The world wide web did not come about through planning,"


Look it up.

12/04/2006 06:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buddy Larsen said, "NewsFlash: Bolton resigns, effective when recess expires. This is getting nightmarish, my friends."

Laying the groundwork for our kinder, gentler foreign policy. Axis of Evil? Dubya never said that, just like he never said Stay the Course.

12/04/2006 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy & teresita,

Someone pointed out Mr. Bolton's displeasure when Madame Rice took his seat at the UN and committed the US to the Franco-American UNSC Resolution 1701.

Messrs. Rumsfeld and Bolton could do the country a great favor by getting their thoughts into print, at the earliest.

12/04/2006 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Could it be that the problem is--while the Axis of Evil is a true-enough academic conceptualization of the major threat to humanity, the incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman "Senator Joe Biden" is, as a quickly advancing advancing kinetic mass, much more terrifying in the near term?

12/04/2006 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Allen--you are dead right, and spot on.

12/04/2006 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

The great service of Senator Biden is evident in the tiny, dull, close-set eyes, which immediately demonstrate in the breach the value of intellect.

12/04/2006 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

A Newspaper Chain Sees Its Future, And It's Online and Hyper-Local

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 4, 2006; A01

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Could this be the future of newspapering?

Darkness falls on a chilly Winn-Dixie parking lot in a dodgy part of North Fort Myers just before Thanksgiving. Chuck Myron sits in his little gray Nissan and types on an IBM ThinkPad laptop plugged into the car's cigarette lighter. The glow of the screen illuminates his face.

Myron, 27, is a reporter for the Fort Myers News-Press and one of its fleet of mobile journalists, or "mojos." The mojos have high-tech tools -- ThinkPads, digital audio recorders, digital still and video cameras -- but no desk, no chair, no nameplate, no land line, no office. They spend their time on the road looking for stories, filing several a day for the newspaper's Web site, and often for the print edition, too. Their guiding principle: A constantly updated stream of intensely local, fresh Web content -- regardless of its traditional news value -- is key to building online and newspaper readership.

For the rest of the story go here

12/04/2006 07:35:00 AM  
Blogger The Flying Spaghetti Monster (Tyler Cassell) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/04/2006 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger The Flying Spaghetti Monster (Tyler Cassell) said...


12/04/2006 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

instap is on the topic just now

12/04/2006 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Ikez said...

link for Carney story now working here

sorry for confusion

12/04/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger redaktør said...

I don't subscribe to the theory of innocent incompetence. It's quite obvious there's deliberate malice involved. There's also the very serious issue of political financial corruption and influence peddling sponsored with Jihadi petro dollars. Over a 100 billion US dollars were spent by Saudia and other Jihadi dictatorships for the purpose of Jihadi subversion and subterfuge. Law enforcement agencies have completely failed in their mission to protect the public on this front.

12/04/2006 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

NahnCee said...

"You're assuming that AP, Reuters and CBS *want* to be accurate. I, on the other hand, believe that AP & Reuters (along with BBC) have absolutely no problem at all with printing anti-American anti-war stories, no matter what kind of lie it is -- "if it bleeds, it leads"."

It's my impresson that the MSM releases information in a coordianted fashion to shape political opinion. Look at the last election: There was that NIE document that was selectively quoted. How long did the MSM sit on that classified document before leaking it to cause maximum impact? Likewise the Folley scandal. The MSM knew about Folley's misconduct for years but kept it to themselves. Only after the NIE document failed to pan out did they bring out Folley.

I wonder how often the editors of the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN along with Howard Dean, James Carville, etc. have dinner at George Soros' house to discuss political strategy?

The MSM really has us by the nuts. All they have to do is repeat the same story over-and-over again and eventually that story becomes gospel.

12/04/2006 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


re: Saudi influence

You are onto something, there, I think.

At both Westhawk and TigerHawk, I have raised the issue of the possible influence of the Iraqi Sunni by Saudi Arabia. Something which might, in part, be responsible for the years' long recalcitrance of said Sunni Iraqis to make a deal with the Shi'a-Kurd government.

While Westhawk has posted some great threads speaking to the future, he/they have made no attempt to address the possibility of interference by our friends the Saudis in Iraq over the years. Certainly, a strategic plan must be forward looking, but that cannot happen without a rigorous, even brutal, examination of the past. Saudi Arabia would be writ large in such an examination.

The order of the day is to see no evil.

12/04/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

On Latin America's hard Left turn - only because free trade, outsourcing Latin jobs to Asia, and globalization wrecked the middle class, failed to advance the poor - and greatly enriched a small class of owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals.

From Chile to Mexico, the view is that American free trade and a race to the bottom for the lowest labor cost has screwed the masses, the American model is discredited, and the future is with the Left that can look out for the ignored 98% of Latin Americans.

In our Iraq fixation, we fail to note how economic policy designed to be only for the rich has been rejected in so many places and will be that way for at least the next decade. The world is massively changing and rejecting the American model in the process. Africa looks to China as a model. Australia is pulling back from free trade as benefiting the rich and traditional middlemen only. Russians are reclaiming their nation from the Oligarchs.

Even in America, the Party of the Wealthy, the Republicans - were repudiated by the idependents and Reagan Democrats over the economy not benefiting working people, high concerns about debt, job security, and insecurity over health care.
Elections have consequences.

Bolton was a very able man. But his people were rejected by the voters, and there is no way the Democrats will let one of the last unapologetic neocons (PNAC signer, etc.) remain in a position of high prominence and power.

Bolton also is thought to be not good with all the Latin nations coming in with people he politically opposed, his opposition to any trade or dialogue with Cuba now we are close to Castro's end, and his kneejerk support of Israel at a time when new leadership in America may trying to be moving to being a fairer and more objective party in ME talks..
Too bad he became a symbol of all that and has to be the focus of all the failures in American diplomatic, military, and economic policy that has diminished our clout so much - because Bolton is a professional that really does know the world despite his Latin and Zionist biases, is brilliant and can be a positive force in reversing our global decline and unraveling.
It is unfortunate that media goes with single source in a time of war and chaos, but sometimes that is unavoidable. What are the milbloggers there but single source? The trick is not to to be burned.

12/04/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to the original question of the press:
Oswald Spengler had this to say about "Democracy, media, and money" as filtered through wikipedia:

Spengler asserts that democracy is simply the political weapon of money, and the media is the means through which money operates a democratic political system. The thorough penetration of money's power throughout a society is yet another marker of the shift from Culture to Civilization.

Democracy and plutocracy are equivalent in Spengler's argument. The "tragic comedy of the world-improvers and freedom-teachers" is that they are simply assisting money to be more effective. The principles of equality, natural rights, universal suffrage, and freedom of the press are all disguises for class war (the bourgeois against the aristocracy). Freedom, to Spengler, is a negative concept, simply entailing the repudiation of any tradition. In reality, freedom of the press requires money, and entails ownership, thus serving money at the end. Suffrage involves electioneering, in which the donations rule the day. The ideologies espoused by candidates, whether Socialism or Liberalism, are set in motion, and ultimately serve, only money. "Free" press does not spread free opinion—it generates opinion, Spengler maintains.

Spengler admits that in his era money has already won, in the form of democracy. But in destroying the old elements of the Culture, it prepares the way for the rise of a new and overpowering figure: the Caesar. Before such a leader, money collapses, and in the Imperial Age the politics of money fades away.

Spengler's analysis of democratic systems argues that even the use of one's own constitutional rights requires money, and that voting can only really work as designed in the absence of organized leadership working on the election process. As soon as the election process becomes organized by political leaders, to the extent that money allows, the vote ceases to be truly significant. It is no more than a recorded opinion of the masses on the organizations of government over which they possess no positive influence whatsoever.

Spengler notes that the greater the concentration of wealth in individuals, the more the fight for political power revolved around questions of money. One cannot even call this corruption or degeneracy, because this is in fact the necessary end of mature democratic systems.

On the subject of the press, Spengler is equally as contemptuous. Instead of conversations between men, the press and the "electrical news-service keep the waking-consciousness of whole people and continents under a deafening drum-fire of theses, catchwords, standpoints, scenes, feelings, day by day and year by year." Through the media, money is turned into force—the more spent, the more intense its influence.

For the press to function, universal education is necessary. Along with schooling comes a demand for the shepherding of the masses, as an object of party politics. Those that originally believed education to be solely for the enlightenment of each individual prepared the way for the power of the press, and eventually for the rise of the Caesar. There is no longer a need for leaders to impose military service, because the press will stir the public into a frenzy, clamor for weapons, and force their leaders into a conflict.

The only force which can counter money, in Spengler's estimation, is blood (i.e. race or national identity). As for Marx, his critique of capitalism is put forth in the same language and on the same assumptions as those of Adam Smith. His protest is more a recognition of capitalism's veracity, than a refutation. The only aim is to "confer upon objects the advantage of being subjects."

12/04/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

One could substitude the word "money" for the word "security" and that for the word "life", as in, the odds of preserving your own and your peoples' into the future.

And as far as "blood" being the only counterforce for money, one could call blood "death" or the willingness to accept it in nplace of something else.

So, for all it is between, the battle is life and death.

12/04/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point of the Spenglerian analysis is that the role of the press is not likely to change by fragmenting it into blogs. The purpose of the MSM is propaganda, i.e. manufacturing opinion, and this function does not depend on the existence of blogs. Exposing lies did not influence the election. The lies will only be better prepared, similar to more complicated encryption when the simple key fails. Captain Hussein will splinter into fifteen different personalities...
The overall picture does not change, all news organizations, including bloggers, are in the service of propaganda, even if unknowingly...

12/04/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

Ova at da EB Anon wrote dis..

Long live the Socialist Revolution!!
We have a strong and mighty maximum leader again in our vanguard, El Primo Chavez.
We have the Chinese and the Russians growing stronger with us, as you slither away from another defeat. America is a paper tiger. You are the treacherous ally that everyone knows now. Who would stand with you? Only a fool in your last days of empire. You will be awash with socialism because you cannot resist the tide of history and because your own people now desire it and are allowing it to happen. We have brought down your history, mixed your population with those who are socialists and you cannot resist. It is beautiful to behold. We have done all of this with your own laws. Look at your major cities today, Los Angeles,New York,Detroit,Chicago are all socialist. Even your courts allow land to be taken from the poor and given to the rich. This only helps our cause. If you will not protect the many who are poor you will not be able to save the few who are rich. Only your poor states with low populations are not already socialist. They will be very easy to tame as are all paper tigers. Your president has signed a pact to make US Canada Mexico one country. Your independence is over, and socialism will win. Long live the socialist revolution !!!

12/04/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

and the Elephant Bar citing a socialist commie.

We are not yet in the time of the harvest. We have planted and we are seeing the first plants sprout, and we are watering them. The first shoots will make a revolution – that will be the harvest. If you ask me what is the most important qualitative thing – I will say, to have, as a government, believed in the power of the people. Believing that the people could create a Misión Sucre space or a Barrio Adentro in someone’s living room. Believing that it was the people’s initiative to do so. This is what makes our revolution. And the attacks on the revolution aim to discredit with a numerical algorithm what is being done, on an experiential level, with the people. But in addition to that, we are doing it in terms that can be measured numerically. The worst thing about those who are denigrating the misiones is that they are denying that the people are a historical subject that is capable of carrying a revolution forward.

We are not in socialism yet. We are just beginning to walk the path that will take us toward a 21st century socialism. That is why Chávez talks about 2021 and 2030 – because he is conscious of the scope of the goals that have been set. From 2002-2003 – the year when this process was radicalized – to here, this is not enough time.

12/04/2006 03:27:00 PM  

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